The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref 116500LN made its debut over 2 years ago. Yet it’s still one of the most sought after watches on the planet. Even if you don’t like watches, I guarantee you’ve seen this model mentioned on social media. Waiting lists at authorized Rolex retailers are still several miles long. And they’re growing by the day. This makes the Rolex Daytona a serious contender for the title of best steel luxury sports watch. Ever. Read on to find out what that even means.
The Steel Luxury Sports Watch
In the early 1970’s, the Swiss watch industry was reeling from the relentless assault of the so-called ‘Quartz Crisis’. Several prominent brands went bankrupt during this period and a number of others came very close. Among them was Audemars Piguet. The company needed a miracle, and they needed it fast. Enter famed watch designer Gérald Genta.
According to watchmaking lore, at the behest of AP’s then managing director Georges Golay, Genta designed a ground-breaking new watch in a single night. Unveiled at the 1972 Baselworld fair, the Audermars Piguet Royal Oak 5402ST created an entire new category for itself: the luxury sports watch. Made entirely out of stainless steel, it was priced higher than many of the 18k gold timepieces Audemars Piguet were selling at the time. In fact, for the cost of one Royal Oak, you could’ve bought around 10 steel Rolex Submariners.
It didn’t take long for the luxury sport watch phenomena to take off. Genta continued to play a sizable role, designing a further two iconic models for the genre: the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the IWC Ingenieur. Now, almost five decades later, the luxury sport watch is not only a well-established category in its own right, its arguably one of the most popular in all of watchmaking. Which brings us to the Rolex Daytona 116500LN.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref 116500LN
For many Rolex lovers, the introduction of this Daytona filled a void that had too long remained empty; specifically, all other ‘sporty’ Rolex in steel had ceramic bezels except for the Daytona. That’s probably oversimplifying things a bit. Here’s what Hodinkee’s Ben Clymer had to say on the launch, to really put things into perspective:
“This watch closes the loop on the entire Daytona family, bringing back back the familiar look that we first saw in 1965 with the reference 6240 and ultimately the 6263.”
Presented in a 40mm Oyster case made from the brand’s specially developed Oystersteel, the Rolex Daytona Ref 116500LN offers brushed and polished finishes. Available with either a black dial or a white dial, the central sweep seconds hand allows an accurate reading of 1/8 second, while the two counters on the dial display the lapsed time in hours and minutes. The time, along with chronograph seconds, is displayed centrally, whilst running seconds are shown on the sub-dial above six o’clock. Framing the dial is a black monobloc cerachrom bezel in ceramic with engraved tachymetric scale.
Inside, the Rolex Daytona Ref 116500LN is powered by the calibre 4130, a self-winding mechanical chronograph movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Certified as a superlative chronometer, the 4130 has successfully passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) tests, before undergoing further stringent tests at Rolex after casing. The chronograph movement features a Parachrom hairspring, offering greater resistance to shocks and to temperature variations.
Each Daytona comes with a 5-year warranty and official pricing is set at GBP 9,100 although getting your hands on one is extremely difficult.
There are a lot of contenders for the title of best luxury steel sports watch, including the Patek Philippe Ref 5711 and the Audemars Piguet 15202ST. Surely though the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref 116500LN is up near the top of the list.
Technical Specifications: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref 116500LN
- Case: Oyster – 40 mm – Oystersteel – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown – black monobloc Cerachrom bezel in ceramic with engraved tachymetric scale – waterproof to 100 metres / 330 feet.
- Dial: Available in black or white – centre hour, minute and seconds hands, small seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Chronograph (centre hand) accurate to within 1/8 of a second, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock – stop seconds for precise time setting – Chromalight display with longlasting luminescence on hour markers and hands.
- Movement: Calibre 4130 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring – 72-hour power reserve – certified as Superlative Chronometer.
- Price: GBP 9,100.